National sports briefs

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 9, 2006

Associated Press

DENVER — A day after Nuggets guard Julius Hodge was cleared to resume playing basketball, Denver assigned him to its NBA Development League affiliate, the Colorado 14ers.

“We view this as a

30-day rehabilitation assignment for Julius,” Mark Warkentien, the team’s vice president of basketball operations, said Friday. “The most important thing he needs right now is to play and this assignment gives him that opportunity. In a month, we think he’ll be ready to come back and help us.”

Hodge hadn’t played since he was shot three times in his left leg April 8 while driving on a Denver freeway after he left a nightclub. He had surgery last summer to remove a bullet fragment from his thigh.

Hodge had been sidelined since the beginning of training camp with an infection in his left foot. He was cleared to play again Thursday.

The former North Carolina State star averaged 0.9 points in 14 games as a rookie for the Nuggets last season. He was expected to be in uniform Sunday when the 14ers play the Idaho Stampede.

SOCCER

ST. LOUIS — The NCAA postponed the men’s soccer semifinals scheduled for Friday night at Saint Louis University, citing heavy snow and ice that blanketed the city.

Both games will be played today instead, with UCLA (13-5-4) facing No. 4 Virginia (17-3-1) and second-seeded Wake Forest (18-3-3) playing California-Santa Barbara

(16-7-0).

Sunday’s championship game will go on as scheduled at 1.

Virginia and Wake Forest are both in the ACC, which has sent three different teams to the finals in the past two years.

Eighth-seed UCLA with two national titles has as many national titles as the entire ACC since 2000.

* CARY — Casey Nogueira picked a good time to play the best game of her collegiate career.

The freshman broke a scoreless tie with a goal in the 84th minute, helping North Carolina beat UCLA

2-0 on Friday in the first game of the NCAA Women’s College Cup.

UNC (26-1) will play for their 18th national title Sunday against Notre Dame, a

2-1 winner Florida State.

NFL

DAVIE, Fla. — Miami Dolphins quarterback Daunte Culpepper underwent arthroscopic knee surgery to remove a piece of cartilage that has hampered his recovery from reconstructive surgery a year ago.

* BEREA, Ohio — Romeo Crennel’s boss isn’t planning to make him the next former Cleveland coach. Not now, and not anytime soon.

Browns general manager Phil Savage strongly backed Crennel, saying it was unfair to blame him for all Cleveland’s problems, temporarily snuffing speculation the struggling club was on the verge of a coaching change.

Crennel is just 9-18 in two seasons with Cleveland.

NBA GRIEVANCE

NEW YORK — The players’ association filed two unfair labor practice charges Friday against the NBA over issues with the new ball and the league’s crackdown on player complaints.

A number of players publicly have complained about the change in the ball from leather to microfiber composite. But the crackdown on complaints after the whistle, often referred to as a “zero-tolerance policy,” might be the bigger problem.

With players fined for each technical they receive, union director Billy Hunter said a lawsuit could be the next step if NBA commissioner David Stern didn’t tell the referees to “back off.”

NHL

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Daniel Briere scored the lone goal in the shootout, Ryan Miller made 36 saves, including six in overtime, and Brian Campbell had a goal and an assist in the Buffalo Sabres’ 4-3 win over the New York Rangers on Friday.

Red Wings 3, Wild 0

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Dominik Hasek needed just 20 saves to record his 72nd career shutout.

Devils 5, Penguins 2

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Checking forward Jay Pandolfo capitalized on a bad night by Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to score the tie-breaking goal and New Jersey Devils snapped a four-game losing streak.

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